Change happens like the seasons
Like the seasons that gradually transform the earth with the passage of time, human change can also plod along. It may be difficult to see that we are growing and moving forward when our life seems at a standstill. So if we are toiling away daily at doing better and being better to ourselves and loved ones -- and still come up short -- it's normal to question the purpose of our efforts. It's normal to feel stuck. Yet it is our actions of today, no matter how small, that will inch us toward a new season of hope.
Autumn does not happen overnight. It's a gradual process. Yet If we slow down just enough, we may be able to witness nature's transformation as the sun starts to wane, temperatures begin to dip and trees begin to paint themselves a hue of purples, oranges and browns. Likewise, the process of human change often occurs in thinly sliced moments. Change happens when we accept our losses, do the uncomfortable, face our fears, feel our feelings, challenge ourselves and recognize our strengths and limitations. Change happens when we transcend the moments we thought we couldn't.
Ironically, these experiences of angst or despair can be the seeds that spawn new growth. For instance, I have witnessed how my clients have struggled with conditions of the mind and body that have negatively affected their relationships, work or school. In therapy, my clients work hard at overcoming what's holding them back. Bit by bit, moment by moment, life situation after life situation, they look within and find solutions to create a better tomorrow.
Yet, sometimes they get stuck in therapy and repeat negative behaviors or think thoughts that are not helpful. At these moments, I contend they are still moving forward. We can't always see how what we do today affects tomorrow. The cultivation process happens beneath the surface, like a seedling that nudges, pokes and prods its way through dirt and gravel as it tries to sprout. Change is a germination process that entails struggle.
Clients may ask me how long it will take before they or their family get better and see results. This is a difficult question to answer because everybody has unique skills, motivation, barriers and life events that can affect the course of treatment. But what I can say is that their transformation began before they walked through the doors of Therapy Trek. Something occurred to them or within them that motivated them to seek treatment. That in itself is change, a step toward creating a new normal.
I think it's in our nature to persevere during difficult times. We have a natural ability to heal, change, recover and grow. And like all things of nature, the process can be steady and gradual. So when you hit a snag in the road, be mindful that your struggle may indeed be part of the journey to a brighter season.
Marsinah Ramirez Buchan, Licensed Psychotherapist